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Gradually the World: New and Selected Poems, 1982 – 2013 by Burt Kimmelman reviewed!


Gradually the World: New and Selected Poems, 1982–2013

David Cooper, Untitled, New York Journal of Books (22 June 2013),

David Cooper, Untitled, examiner.com  (24 June 2013),


If a Tang Dynasty Chinese poet were reincarnated as a 21st century American poet he might write a poem such as “After the Rain, Autumn” by Burt Kimmelman:

“Blue flowers bow
over the walk
after rain—leaves,
too, have fallen.”

Here Mr. Kimmelman emulates the Lushi verse form with parallel imagery (flowers and leaves) in successive couplets and the same number of words (3) and syllables (4) in each line. Chinese words are monosyllabic, so in a Chinese line of verse the number of words and syllables are the same, and each of is represented by its own character. Most English words are polysyllabic, so Anglophone poets can only approximate Chinese prosody.

Most of the poems Mr. Kimmelman has written since the turn of this century have employed syllabics. Unlike many of his contemporaries who emulate Japanese syllabic forms that vary the number of syllables per line, such as haiku’s 5-7-5, Mr. Kimmelman emulates Chinese verse forms in which each line of a poem has the same number of syllables; at least one of his syllabic poems has only three syllables per line, a few have as many as eight, and most have a number in between.

Basil King, some of whose brushstrokes resemble those of traditional Chinese painters, illustrated this handsome paperback with black and white reproductions of his abstract paintings.

Read the whole review at the New York Journal of Books

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